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Christoper Landon's Happy Death Day was a legitimate surprise when it arrived back in 2017, featuring a tuned balance of horror and comedy, and becoming a box office hit. The film now has a big following as a result, but it's noteworthy looking back that it really only got a lukewarm response from critics. Now it looks like the new sequel, Happy Death Day 2U is getting a similar reaction.
The review embargo for Happy Death Day 2U has lifted, and both positive and negative takes seem to be coming in at equal rates. I personally had a blast watching the movie, and CinemaBlend's Mike Reyes shared similar sentiments in his review. Highlighting the fact that the sequel switches things up genre-wise and keeps audiences on their toes, he thinks that the new release is actually even more fun than the original, writing:
While Happy Death Day operated more as a slasher horror film with a comedic bent, Happy Death Day 2U crosses over into the realm of sci-fi, with some of that horror still mixed in. Much like Alien led to Aliens, writer/director Christopher Landon takes that original concept and turns it into a supercharged thrill ride that plays with the familiar.
Over at The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore also shared mostly positive thoughts on the film, but also balanced that side of his opinion with acknowledgement that Happy Death Day 2 doesn't quite stick the landing when it comes to the more emotional sides of its story. Still, he did note a belief that audiences will connect to the point where the story will play out as a full trilogy:
It does eventually suck some of the fun out of a tale that gets off to a rollickingly promising start, but that doesn't mean 2U won't fare well enough at the box office to deliver the further adventures promised in a post-credits gag.
Sadly, Chris Nashawaty didn't have as many positive things to say in his review for Entertainment Weekly. Delivering the movie a "C" grade, the critic wasn't overly in love with the fact that Happy Death Day 2U goes back to the looping narrative that created the structure for the first one. Rather than being able to enjoy the new elements being included, he felt that the follow-up simply feels repetitive, and clearly wasn't on-board for the genre switch-up:
Happy Death Day 2U does hint for a while that there could be some geeky, hi-IQ Real Genius laughs. But those hopes are quickly squashed by the premise’s baked-in repetitiveness. Worse, the movie seems more interested in laughably sketchy exposition about physics and low-hanging-fruit humor than actual jumps and scares.
Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman docked the feature for being "more of the same," while adding that just because things get more complex doesn't necessarily mean that the story is getting better. Likewise, he also didn't love that the horror elements were made secondary in the sequel, arguing,
It’s all trying, in its way, to be quite clever and all very knowing/videogame/meta. But if you go back to the first two “Scream” films, which hovered over “Happy Death Day” as much as “Groundhog Day” did, they managed to bracket their own reality without sacrificing that essential slasher impulse. They were nerve-jangling thrillers that goosed you, even as they kept pulling the rug out from under your propensity to get goosed.
In her piece for The Los Angeles Times, Kimber Myers is much more forgiving of the change-up, and, like many other reviews, makes the direct comparison between Happy Death Day 2U and Back To The Future (a reference that the film itself makes). She doesn't believe that the new film is as good as the first, but still could appreciate it breaking into new territory:
Like most sequels, “Happy Death Day 2U” can’t quite replicate the feelings of joy and discovery of the original, but Landon deserves credit for varying the tune, while still playing the hits that will please the fans of its predecessor.
Fans of Happy Death Day looking forward to Happy Death Day 2U will get their chance to see the film for themselves incredibly soon, as the film will be arriving in theaters tomorrow, February 13th. If that includes you, dear reader, then you should also stay tuned here on CinemaBlend, as we have some great stuff coming your way from my interviews with stars Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard, writer/director Christopher Landon, and producer Jason Blum.